Science Book a Day Interviews Paul Raeburn


Special thanks to Paul Raeburn for answering 6 questions about his recently featured book – Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked

Paul is the author of the About Fathers blog at Psychology Today magazine, and a regular contributor to many magazines and websites, including The New York Times Magazine, DiscoverScientific American,and The Huffington Post. He is also the chief media critic for the Knight Science Journalism Tracker at MIT. On Friday afternoons, he can be heard regularly as a panelist or occasional guest host of NPR’s Science Friday. – From Paul’s Homepage

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#1 – What was the impetus for Do Fathers Matter?

I am the father of five children, and I’m very interested in what other fathers and I can do to help our children grow up to be healthy and happy and prepared for the world outside the family. I think fathers should read it, and I think mothers should, too, so they know more about what fathers can do. Nothing is more important than our children, and the more we understand about fathers, as well as mothers, the more we can help them.

#2 – For a long time fathers were seen as ‘secondary’ to raising kids. How do you think men got assigned this role?

When most families lived on farms, children worked with fathers in the barn and in the fields. Fathers spent a lot of time with children. The industrial era changed that, and fathers spent more time away. But it’s clear that fathers were important no matter what their work arrangement was. So the meaning of fathers has not changed–it’s just that their importance has been overlooked.

#3 – You cover a lot of data in your book. How did you go about your research? How did you come to terms with data from a number of different fields?

I talked to everyone I could find. Some researchers mentioned in the book have told me that they learned about research in the book that they hadn’t know about. I hope the book will help to make those connections for researchers in different fields.

#4 – Did you find any data that was particularly surprising?

I was surprised how much research has been done on fathers–and why we don’t know more about it. The research has appeared in journals that are read only by specialists. This work deserves a much wider audience, which is what I tried to do with Do Fathers Matter.

#5 – What has the reaction to your book been? From men? From women?

The reaction has been very positive. Single mothers have asked me whether it can help them raise their children, and I tell them it can. Fathers love the book.

#6 – Are you working on any new books/projects you can tell us about?

I’m still interested in family issues. I will be posting new items on the science of fatherhood at my website,, and I’m thinking of doing another book on fathers, but I don’t yet know exactly what it will include.

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